Why Sam Franklin’s New Words Will Never Catch On

Some people should stick to their day jobs. Rather than trying to win the universe as relentless polymaths who insist on crushing marathon strategy sessions during the day, writing original poetry for their children by evening, and then assembling original comedy via open mic events by night, they should just sit down and watch some freaking House of Lies already.

It’s not even clear to me what someone who reads four books a week but has never even seen one episode of Jane the Virgin talks about with his enormous and intellectually, socioeconomically, and racially diverse group of friends. (Although he did once call me at 9:30 pm to tell me that his mind was blown by this PBS explainer on the Boltzmann brain, so I guess he watches some modern media content.)

Lately, Sam Franklin’s been veering into the domain of lexicography on the idea that the English language doesn’t have enough words already. False. Some of the dumbest words ever defined have cropped up in the last decade. It is literally the worst decade in history for new words. Come to think of it, it’s literally the worst decade in history for old words. Take literally for example. Literally now has literally the opposite meaning of literally both literally and figuratively. To recover from this madness, I’m going to literally plant myself on a couch and watch a Psych marathon. (Wait, is this happening because every time a Boltzmann brain reconstitutes, something is just a little bit off? Holy sh*t; he’s infected me!)

On Tuesday, he published a post listing some of the bizarre terms of which he is proudest. Noitering. Iftersections. No one is ever going to use these words. I know this because, as The Economist rightly pointed out in last month’s magazine, words only go viral when their inventors use them to ironically criticize some disreputable phenomenon. Did you really think that “Impressionism” was a compliment? Of course not. “It’s not even a real painting; it’s an impression of a painting.” Boom. Globally adopted word for an entire movement.

Of all the things he came up with, SWTP (stick with the plan) has the greatest chance of getting picked up. That’s because its author is literally the least likely person I know to SWTP. His real motto should be more like DNSWTPUAC (Do Not Stick With The Plan Under Any Circumstances). The man is the Chief Impact Officer at a strategy consulting firm that advises leaders of multi-billion dollar companies (and also those starting nonprofits and building schools) and yet he’s allowing his completely ironic lexigraphs into the company blog. Dude: FOCUS.

Author’s Note: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to put a full size West African Forest elephant in Sam Franklin’s office in honor of his truly most beloved phrase, “elephant in the room” this April Fools Day, so we’re calling him out for his linguistic arts here in the Outside Angle blog instead.